November 18, 2011

A day in Ayuttaya

Category: Random

For the first time in a long time, I woke up at an ungodly hour of 4 am yesterday and was literally out of the house by 4.40 am to be somewhere in time for a 5 am transport to Ayutthaya with my clients and team members.

I was not too happy about the time, but I was not cursing and swearing. This time, it was because I wanted to do it – I wanted to be a part of a volunteer project to help the flood victims. And because the idea (although recycled from another country and now re-used here in Thailand ) was initiated by my subordinate about a month ago, and we as a team has been pretty involved in the whole process from approval to execution, I wanted to actually be there and see the fruition of her labour.

The idea was simple – together with the client and a few partners, we created an event for recovering communities after the flood and set up a free launder mat service where we wash, dry and folded the clothes.
You won’t believe what people brought! Apart from regular clothes, there were bed sheets, kahunas of blankets after blankets and even curtains. In fact, I think they outnumbered the regular clothing by a dozen for every set of clothes we received. I reckon that if they could haul their couches, mattresses and furniture to be laundered, they probably would have done so. Because almost every item we received consisted of blankets and bed sheets, there was no way we could turn the, away. We just had to suck it up and do it – hoping that the machine could handle the load.

The truth it, because we got in the organizer to do everything, technically we don’t really have to lift a finger. But like I said, I really wanted to help. And after helping sorting out the soiled (some really smelly) clothes at registration, I parked my ass at the folding station an hour later to help with the folding.

I can safely say I probably spent a good 3 hours (at least!) folding mostly damp clothes. I don’t think I have ever folded so many clothes at one sitting! And yes, you read that right. Folding damp clothes, and mainly because the electricity available at the place we were in, which was considered upcountry, could not handle the juice required by the 10 dryers we had. I am absolutely bummed by that, although from what I gathered, the locals did not mind it so much. In fact, most request not to be dried as they did not want to wait for so long. Oh well!

There was this one lady whom midway through our folding task, popped over at our station with bags of cut pineapple. She had bought and was distributing them just for us. I was actually touched by her kindness, thinking what a sweet woman she is. It was later that I found out that she had actually given us 14 LOADS of laundry to be washed, and so the free pineapples were sort of a small gesture of gratitude, or as the Thais say, “Greng Jai” .

A lady looking satisfied with her clean clothes!
The lady who bought us pineapples
The folding station
Me separating smelly laundry

The sun was obscenely hot, though and I developed a migraine half way through. We only left the place at about 4pm and it took us another 3 hours to get back into Bangkok. But, on the way back to Bangkok, I caught a sight of the sun setting against an infinity of murky flood water as the traffic went on a standstill for a good hour.

The sun has set, and my day was over. Although I was tired, hungry and my head felt like it was about to explode, I can’t help but feel all warm and tingly inside as I reflected on the smiles I saw during the event in the day.

I am so very proud of my team and what they had accomplished in the very short span of time to get this up and running. So overwhelmingly proud that I could tear!


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